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East Timor MAP AND DESCRIPTION
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East Timor- The eastern half of the island of Timor, East Timor, is a former Portuguese colony that declared itself independent from Portugal on 28 November 1975. Nine days later, Indonesian forces invaded and occupied the former colony, with the tacit approval of the United States and Australia. By July 1976 the colony had been annexed as the province of Timor Timur. Over the next two decades, Indonesia integrated the colony, with many significant positions of authority being occupied by Indonesians rather than the East Timorese. An estimated 100,000 to 250,000 individuals are believed to have lost their lives during a campaign of pacification during this time. The United Nations supervised a popular referendum on 30 August 1999, in which the people of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia. After the results were announced, gangs of independence opponents, supported by the Indonesian military, terrorised the population in a civil war that destroyed much of the country's infrastructure. A United Nations peacekeeping force led by Australian forces was sent in to re-establish a civil society and reconstruct the nation. On 20 May 2002, East Timor was internationally recognized as an independent state under the official name of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste.

The culture of East Timor reflects numerous influences, including Portuguese, Roman Catholic, and Malaysia, on the indigenous Austronesian and Melanesian cultures of Timor. Legend has it that a giant crocodile was transformed into the island of Timor, or Crocodile Island, as it is often called. East Timorese culture is heavily influenced by Austronesian legends, although the Catholic influence is also strong. There is a strong tradition of poetry. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, for example, is a distinguished poet. As for architecture, some Portuguese-style buildings can be found, along with the traditional totem houses of the eastern region. These are known as uma lulik (sacred houses) in Tetum, and lee teinu (houses with legs) in Fataluku. Craftsmanship is also widespread, as is the weaving of traditional scarves or tais.

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